Multiple crashes keep responders on the run
As the snow piled up Thursday, dumping 6 inches in Mack and Palisade, and 2 1/2 inches by 5 p.m. at Grand Junction Regional Airport, so did the number of car accidents.
Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Scott Simons said Thursday was one of the worst days he’s seen for snow-related accidents because the storm kept dumping snow on the roads throughout the day. Simons estimated 20 to 30 accidents occurred in Mesa County on Thursday afternoon alone, with Clifton and De Beque Canyon racking up the most accident reports.
“It’s been nonstop since I came on at 1 p.m.,” Simons said Thursday evening.
Multiple-car accidents on icy roads closed Interstate 70 in both directions in the Rifle area Thursday afternoon.
Capt. Rich Duran of the Colorado State Patrol’s Glenwood Springs office said the first occurred at 12:25 p.m. on westbound I-70 about five miles west of Rifle and involved seven vehicles.
The second occurred about 40 minutes later at milepost 93 east of Rifle and involved eight vehicles.
Duran said several people were taken to Grand River Hospital in Rifle, but he didn’t believe their injuries were serious.
The closures lasted about two hours each. Duran said westbound traffic was completely halted, but eastbound traffic was able to detoured onto U.S. Highway 6 in Rifle.
He said icy, snowpacked roads, blowing snow and some people going too fast for conditions caused the crashes.
The snow hampered travel on the road and in the skies. United flights between Grand Junction and Denver went on as planned until late Thursday morning, when delays began. Flights departed a half-hour to 2 1/2 hours late in the afternoon.
Amtrak experienced delays, too, leaving Grand Junction for Denver an hour late Thursday morning and arriving in Grand Junction from the east a half-hour late in the afternoon. A service alert on the Greyhound website Thursday said the bus line was experiencing schedule delays and cancellations between Grand Junction and Las Vegas because of severe weather.
The weather forecast for today includes flurries until about noon, National Weather Service Meteorologist Matt Aleksa said. Grand Valley residents can expect a chilly New Year’s Eve and Day, Aleksa added, with temperatures plummeting below zero tonight and hovering between zero and 20 degrees on Saturday.
For drivers, Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman Nancy Shanks advised roads will likely be icy this morning, especially on on-ramps and bridges.
Reporter Dennis Webb contributed to this report.